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24 September 2012 @ 04:23 pm
The Poison Rain 2/10?  
Understanding the Storm, book 3
Avengers fic of Asgardian Family Shenanigans

Further info with Part 1

Thor felt great pity for Loki, trapped within that featureless cell. He knew it was deserved, for Loki had done great harm, but to see him thus so reduced still seemed wrong. But in the main, it was confusing, because it seemed so sudden - one moment they were fighting side-by-side, and the next, they were enemies and separated by this impenetrable barrier.

Loki's arms were folded and he stared at the floor as Thor walked into view, and only slowly did Loki look up and greet his visitor. "Oh. You again. It must be a dull day in Asgard for me to have so many repeat visitors."

"I came to ask you a question," Thor said.

Loki shrugged. "And I will answer it."

"Truthfully?" Thor asked.

Loki's faint smile flashed to a grin. "Maybe. If the question is interesting." He spread his hands and Thor knew it was an invitation to make a fool of himself, but he forged ahead, hoping his persistence would eventually wear Loki down.

"What other paths do you use to enter the realm?"

Loki refolded his arms and looked bored. "You know that answer. The shadow paths."

"Where is the gate into Asgard?"

"Come now, do better. I've awaited that one all day."

"That is not an answer. You said you would answer. Where is the gate?"

Loki gave a sigh and then retorted with a grin, "Beneath your bed."

"Loki! Where is the gate?"

Loki had not the slightest intention of revealing the secret, Thor knew that as the smirk widened and Loki asked, "Worried?"

"Did you tell Thanos how to enter?" Thor demanded.

Loki stopped giving him ridiculous answers, but his non-answers were no less frustrating. "If his army appears within the boundary, you will have your answer."

"How do you get inside? How did you let the Jotun inside without using the Bifrost or Heimdall seeing them?"

"Heimdall is easily fooled. Do not put all your faith in his sight," Loki warned.

"Where is the gate?" Thor repeated.

Loki shook his head. "You are hopeless. You should bring Natasha here to interrogate me - at least she was interesting."

"This is not an interrogation," Thor protested. "I want what you should want - to protect our people from invasion."

Loki rolled his eyes in disdain. "I want amusement, which your pathetic attempt at interrogation is failing to provide."

The idea of amusement when faced with that utter blankness of a cell made Thor realize something - he would be terribly bored in there, and Loki would have to be even more so. "You want diversion? Tell me where the gate is and I will have Father change your accommodations to something more interesting."

Loki regarded him for a long moment and then slowly smiled. "Ah, an intelligent play at last. Your association with more clever people on Earth has improved you."

Thor was long-used to ignoring Loki's mocking insults, and asked, "Do we have a bargain?"

Loki glanced around the bare cell and shook his head in the negative. "No. I like it here. It's very … restful. And since I have no intention of staying in here for long, it is adequate. It reminds me of Earth. You out there and me in here -- oh wait, that was you inside and me outside." He smirked in remembrance, and Thor had to restrain himself from trying to hit him, recalling what else had happened in that moment.

Anger made his voice sharp, "You are deluded if you believe you will be free of that cell soon."

Loki's smile turned bitter as broken glass. "Interesting how I say I want to crush the humans underfoot and everyone believes every word, yet when I say I intend to get out of this cell, everyone tells me how impossible it is. Yet I have demonstrated the second."

"And the first," Thor said, anger rising. "You demonstrated that as well."

Loki shook his head and snorted. "Do you believe I intended to conquer all of Midgard with five hundred Chitauri? So much for intelligence." He folded his arms. "Everything happened according to plan. I am here, the tesseract is here, and Thanos comes to take back what is his. You will all fall before him." He leaned closer and said with relish, "I look forward to that day."

Hearing Loki's words echo Odin's not long before made Thor uneasy. There was a plan, there had to be. Thanos would attack Asgard soon, free Loki, take the tesseract, and be unstoppable. Frustrated, Thor shook his head and slammed the barrier with a fist. "Cease this! You speak with another's voice, brother. Not your own."

Loki's eyes narrowed and he returned coldly, "I speak with the voice I hid while I was too weak to take what is mine. But those days are past."

Thor hit the barrier again and stomped away, too angry to continue talking to him.

Frigga was waiting on the landing, and he composed himself when he saw her with a drawn breath. "Mother, he is infuriating!"

She smiled a little and briefly squeezed his hand. "I am sorry, Thor. I know it is difficult when he is so provoking."

"At least he admitted there is a plan," Thor said with relief. "Now we need only discover what it is and counter it."

To his surprise, she shook her head. "When Loki is obvious about something, that is our cue to be wary."

"You think it is misdirection?" he asked.

"It is something. He did not know Thanos existed an hour ago, so they could not have schemed together, whatever he claims."

Thor let out a frustrated growl and shook his head, realizing that he had fallen for Loki's trickery. "He plays with us."

"But it does not mean there is no attack," she said. "Inform your father, if he was not listening. I'm sure he has tasks for you. I will come upstairs as soon as I bring his meal."

Thor moved to obey and seek out Odin, but stopped to kiss her cheek. She smiled but looked curious. "What was that for?"

"For your heart," he answered. "Because I love you, and so does Loki, even if he will not admit it."

"I know. And I love you, son. We will get through this as a family, I believe that."

Thor's gaze followed her as she approached the servitor to take the tray. Graceful, regal, wise, loving - she was everything Thor thought most beautiful in the Nine Realms. He could not understand how Loki was not weeping in her arms, pleading for forgiveness right now.

Loki, how lost must you be to turn your back on her, knowing how much she loves you even now?

But there were duties to attend to and a war to prepare. And so he had to turn his own back and go find Odin.

Frigga returned to the cell. Loki had not expected another visitor so soon, and was seated on the floor against the back wall. He tapped his fingers on his drawn-up knees, seeming quite bored.

He glanced up to see her arrive, and though he jerked as if he intended to stand, he decided against it and stayed where he was. His expression soured. "Did you get what you wanted?"

She frowned. "What do you mean?"

His eyes flashed with anger. "Thor's visit. You knew I would never answer the question so your only purpose must have been to provoke me."

She stayed calm, though she wanted to flinch at how accurately he had read the situation. Bending, she touched the wall near the barrier and opened a slot. "Odin wanted him to ask you. We thought you might remember that you are family."

He snorted skeptically and muttered, "And people wonder from whence my manipulative tendencies spring."

"You are far more like Odin and I than either of us wish to admit," she agreed, slipping the tray in. The wall took it and a moment later, an opening in the side of the cell formed and the tray slid out. He glanced toward it but didn't move.

"But you and I have always understood each other," she added. "I want to help, Loki. I have no other motive than that."

"And to find out where the gate is," he pointed out dryly.

"I care about you and your return to the family, more than I care about the gate." She knelt on the floor opposite him, sitting on her heels, and smoothed her skirt over her legs.

"The idea of Thanos entering Asgard bothers you so little?" he countered skeptically.

"Of course not. I fear what Thanos would do to all the Nine Realms. But I fear even more what you may do at his bidding, because whatever it is, it will destroy you."

"You think me so weak?" he returned bitterly and jumped to his feet to glare at her. "I will have the tesseract and nothing will touch me."

She took a deep breath and said, "If you do not find your way clear of this thicket, it will break your spirit and all that is Loki will die." She murmured, "I feel you struggle. Somewhere deep within, you know this poison in your heart is not your own. Cast it away."

He stalked to the barrier to stare down at her. "You know nothing. Thanos did nothing to me but show me power. My glorious destiny of rule. And no one, not even you, will hold me back from that!"

She held his gaze, without rising. "Do you not hear yourself? Your ambition and anger are untempered. And that is an outside influence, not you."

He turned away, inhaling a deep breath, gathering himself back together into calm. "I am not under another influence," he insisted. "You do not understand how I have grown."

She knew otherwise, but decided she had been combative enough. "Very well. Loki. I will let it go for now." Nodding her head to the tray, she advised, "You should eat before the soup congeals."

To her surprise, he didn't argue the suggestion, and sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the tray, hungry or at least grateful for diversion. He sipped the wine and lifted the cover from the tureen. The surprised and delighted grin on his face was genuine, as he leaned down to inhale the aroma. "Mushrooms!" He glanced at her and said with quiet gratitude, "Thank you."

"You are welcome. There are none from Svartalfheim, with the Bifrost broken, but these from Borenwald are almost as good."

He ate eagerly as if he'd had nothing to savor in all the months of his absence and mushroom soup had been his favorite dish since he'd been small. On finishing he rested against the back wall, cup in hand to finish the wine more slowly. "That was perfect."

"I will tell Hilde so," Frigga promised, though that would have to wait. The staff had been told only that Loki was unwell and needed to rest in isolation. The guards were to keep others out more than they were to keep Loki in, since Frigga feared both his influence on the unprepared and because she wanted to restrict knowledge of his behavior. There were many tales of what Loki had done and become already, and he needed no more gossip spread against him.

He sipped at the wine, twirling the stem between his fingers. "I expected you to put something in it."

She lifted her brows in surprise. "If there was some tincture or spell to help you, my son, I would use it. But alas, it is something you must do on your own."

The reference to his being under influence proved unwise as he counter-attacked. "So, now that we have indulged your fantasy of family dinners," he started, his tone sardonic. "Am I expected to fall into some storm of weakness and regret all my terrible misdeeds?"

His sarcasm and distance made her weary suddenly. "Loki, don't. Please. I do not expect anything, only to indulge my own nostalgia for happier times of you and I together."

His gaze flickered away, expression faltering with brief remorse. Instead of speaking, he set the cup on the tray and pushed it back into the slot. The tray emerged in the corridor, and the wall flowed back into position without seam or imperfection.

She picked up the tray and stood. He wouldn't look up at her, fingers absently rubbing the floor beside him. "It is not a fantasy, Loki. I know you believe you are lost. But that is not true. There is no one so lost he can never find his way home."

For a moment he was silent, as if her words had touched him. But then he shook his head in denial, with a little chuckle, and his lip curled. "You think I want to return to this place? I want to watch it fall and crumble into dust." His voice turned vicious, and he laughed when he saw her dismay. "Hypocrites and liars and betrayers, all of you. Why should I want to come back to this place?"

She struggled to find something to say in response to his dark, hateful words. "There were good memories here, too, Loki."

"Yes, so many good memories," he said taunting and with so much bitterness, his words fell like a lash. "All the times I was scorned and denied and abandoned. All those times it was my strategy or my powers that saved the battle, yet somehow it was always Thor's victory. The times Odin promised that one day we both would have greatness, even while he never intended I should be more than his son's shadow. Those good times?"

She shook her head anxiously, and stepped up to the barrier. "No, that was not all there was. Do not let your anger and bitterness poison all that was good. There was love, too, hold to that," she pleaded.

He regarded her, expression closed up and blank. "Thank you for dinner," he said formally and lifted a hand. The barrier turned black and opaque as obsidian, and she took a startled step back before realizing he had clouded his side of it. It was illusion but effective to block her sight.

She could combat it, but she thought they probably both needed some time apart. "Good night, my son," she murmured and left.

( Part three )